This month, the PEACE Academy (opening Fall 2022), announced their collaboration with Joseph Edelin (Houston ’02) on the creation of their Afrocentric curriculum. Ebony Payne Brown (Metro Atlanta ’06) is the Creative Designer and School Founder of the PEACE Academy which has a mission of educating students to learn the complete truth about our history and the role we play in our communities in an era where curriculum often omits marginalized groups of people.
We caught up with Joseph Edelin to learn more about the importance of Black teachers and Afrocentric curriculum in schools. Please see his thoughts below:
Black teachers for Black students is important because the research shows us that in general, from a behavior perspective, Black teachers are less likely to perceive Black students’ behavior as threatening or disruptive, and therefore less likely to refer them for disciplinary action. It is also known that Black teachers have higher academic expectations of Black students than white teachers do, and Black students with Black teachers tend to do better in both math and reading, and are more likely to be referred to gifted and talented and/or AP courses. Black teachers are also more likely to include lessons in their classroom that are culturally responsive and reflective of the students’ heritage and background. The work I do designing Afrocentric curriculum for schools like Peace Academy and others, speaks directly to that point. Most state standards do not give a full and accurate depiction of the accomplishments and contributions that people of African descent have made to all subject areas (not just social studies). The impact of this is that students from all backgrounds are receiving a white-washed, Eurocentric narrative on who is responsible for the creation and progression of both ancient and modern civilization, which upholds the notion of perceived white supremacy and dominance. This affects all students, but specifically Black students because it reinforces the negative stereotypes that they are ingesting from the media and society in general on a regular basis. Black students need to see the greatness and beauty of where they come from so they can dream of the possibilities of where they might be able to go.